Sunday, April 25, 2010


I had that “I don’t wanna go to the gym” thing going on a recent morning. I really should have washed my hair, but I was being lazy about everything, and it looked passable to me. I thought maybe if I worked out hard right away that I would just look sweaty.

I’d forgotten the rule that you will always run across someone you know when you try to just dash somewhere without being noticed.

So I walked into Curves. I tried to slide by the main desk (after signing in) without anyone seeing me. I wanted to get right into sweating to disguise the lazy state of my hair.

One of the Curves employees says hello, all smiles. I must not have been hideous, because she didn’t shrink back in horror. Then again, they’ve seen a lot of Bed Head and legitimately sweaty hair. Oh well, she’ll forget me in a second.

But, I forgot I’m “The Winner.”

I jumped on a jogging board and started a marching in place to get the whole target heart rate thing going. About 10 minutes later I’ve moved about halfway around the room. There are a million signs on the walls. Bulletin board, charts, motivational sayings, policy notices, or whatever. So, it took awhile for me to notice the large sign by the desk.

Jen Kelly
The BNI Mother’s Day
Makeover Winner!

My name up in colored paper.
I almost cried, but you can’t cry when you’re doing bicep curls. That’s so not cool.

There were cut-out flowers gamboling around my name and the letters themselves were all different colors. This was a lot more work than slapping the words on poster board with a Sharpie and calling it a day. I was touched that someone had done that for me, and I was suddenly gushing gratitude for everything I am receiving because of the makeover. I closed my eyes, pretending to be overcome with exertion instead of merely trying to hold it together before my eyes started to water. It might have been fine to be seen crying, but what if they come over to comfort me and noticed the rest of me wasn’t sweaty enough to warrant the condition of my hair? The whole ruse would be over.

More people gradually joined the circuit. A blonde woman sat on a machine near me and I glanced at her. It was Jean, one of my favorite receptionists from Weight Watchers. She had been there every week while I lost the 90 pounds and was someone I looked forward to seeing at the weigh-in and meeting. But I have never seen her outside of Weight Watchers. Of course I would see her then, because of the rule. We chatted as we rounded the circle. Oh well. Surely no one else would notice me.

Then the woman from the desk walked up to me, smiling.

“You’re Jen, right?” she asks. “The BNI makeover winner?”
The winner who, she’s now probably thinking, could really use a makeover. Or shampoo.
“Yeah.” I said uncomfortably; I never know what to do when I’m identified as “the winner”.
She introduced herself and told me that she wanted to take a picture of me for the Welcome sign before I left.
“Does my hair look terrible?” I asked.
“You won the contest?” Jean asked, looking from the poster to me.
“Yeah.” I said. It’s still hard to tell people without feeling sheepish. I should practice in a mirror saying “Yes! I did!” I feel sheepish about feeling sheepish at this point.

I agreed to the photo. At least I had one of my favorite t-shirts on. It says "Jenius" which made me laugh out loud when I saw it in the catalog. But people who know my name tend to mentally pronounce it like Jen-ius, not Jean-ius. And the funny gets a little lost when it seems like it's purposely spelled that way as a nod to my name. I like the way it was intended. Like I'm a self-proclaimed genius who misspells the title. It's a t-shirt that says "I'm with stupid" but you don't need to be standing next to anyone.

The Curves employee moved on, and Jean turned to me.
“I know you’re not the kind of person to be all about the prizes, but… what prizes did you get?” She asked eagerly.

But I am all about the prizes. I’m only human. Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about them. What will my smile look like without that gap between my front teeth? I hope the Miche Bag shells are pretty. I wonder if I should get some Spanx before they take me shopping for the party outfit; I must control my Mommy Muffin Top.

“Well, you deserve it, Jen. You’ve been working so hard, and you look great now.” Jean said. She was on her back, her calves nestled in the machine where you open your legs and then bring them back together.
“I have a friend who used to call this the ‘Good girl/bad girl’ machine.” She laughed.
Now I’ll always enjoy that thought when I’m using that station. At least until my thighs start fatiguing.

I finished my workout and the woman took my picture. At first I stood there, arms hanging. I felt totally lame. I put my hands on my hips, to make myself look more alive. Isn’t that called ‘arms akimbo’? I wondered to myself. What a funny phrase. I remembered my daughter’s preschool pictures where she had her hands on her hips and was glaring at the camera with a hint of a smile. She looked impatient to get back to whatever activity she was doing before they pulled her away, combed her hair and washed her face. She had a look of indignity and fraying tolerance, but also enjoying the attention. It was sassy, so perfectly her.

I was legitimately sweaty now, in a baggy t-shirt, hair in a sloppy pony tail. I had definitely looked better. But I didn’t glare. I’m not three years old anymore.
When I pulled my smile into place, it melted all the anxiety. The happiness was suddenly Jenuine.


  1. Shout out to Horst who first told me I put the Jen in genuine!

  2. I love you, I love you! I laughed OUT LOUD so many times when I read this! Can you link this to the CDT and every website in the world? I'm so thankful to have you as my friend. I want a t-shirt.

  3. Can't wait to hear about the actual make over! Congratulations.